Our first Melbourne family photoshoot left me heartbroken

Hello, how are you? A few thoughts in my mind as I begin to type. Firstly, we are already nearing the end of February. Secondly, should I take another break from social media?

And now, a funny story to share:

Last December my family and I received a gift voucher for a family studio photoshoot. We were delighted! We’ve never done that before, and, although we were quite nervous about how the two kids would behave during the photo session, we thought it would be a nice experience. Plus, it would be great to have some lovely family photos.

When we called to make an appointment, we were told that the gift voucher would cover the entire cost of the photo session, with some to spare. We could use the balance to buy photo products if we liked, but there was no obligation whatsoever.

Cool! We thought, even if we didn’t want to buy any extra products, we would settle for the photos that come with the photoshoot package. Sure thing. We were set.


So off we went on that Saturday morning. The kids were packed into the car, and Amy was quite excited about the photoshoot. Upon arrival, the adults were served champagne while the kids enjoyed TV and made themselves comfortable (a bit too comfortable) around the set.

I was quickly dolled up by the friendly make-up artist, who then proceeded to give Amy a beautiful hairdo. Alistair didn’t want to miss out so he demanded to sit on the make-up chair too, and the make-up artist very kindly gave him some light pats on the face with some powder.

Once we were all dressed and ready, we proceeded to the set. The photographer started doing his thing: giving us instructions to pose while snapping away. The kids, of course, were not interested in following instructions at all. They were more excited about climbing up the couch, pushing the stools around, and giving the photographer a frown when they finally sat still. But the photog was amazing. He ran around, tickled them, did some monkey faces, and captured all their giggles, grins and laughs with his lens.

It wasn’t a long photoshoot, but, after loads of “Stop pushing the chair. No climbing the wall. Don’t push each other! Come on Alistair sit here! Amy, please stay next to me. OK smile kids! Smile!! No no not the hat. Look at the camera! Don’t touch the mirror. Be careful!!! Stay away from the light!” we were exhausted.

When enough photos were taken, we went out for a quick lunch before returning to view the photos. The kids were beginning to get cranky at this stage, but not me. I was very excited to see the photos. And they didn’t disappoint! All the photos were lovely and the kids were super adorable. It was really hard to choose our favourites. With every photo I had to eliminate, my heart broke a little.

But that was nothing compared to what happened next.


After selecting 20 of our favourites (with much difficulty and heartache), the staff started showing us our options for the print products. He started by showing us their popular portrait canvas, which started at about $4,000.

Yes, $4,000.

We stared. And gulped. If we were in a cartoon, our jaws would have dropped to the floor.

The hubby and I looked at each other and discreetly but unmistakenly sent the same message through our eyes: “THIS IS CRAZY!”

The staff, without missing a beat, continued to show us the other more “affordable” options. But here’s the thing, they were not very affordable to us.

It’s OK, we could just take whatever pictures were included in the photo session, right?


Apparently, there were NO PICTURES included in the photography session package! To get any picture at all, we would have to pay. The cheapest they could offer us was 10 digital photos for $1,500!!

We were stunned and speechless. Thankfully my hubby recovered faster than I did, and wisely told them to give us some time to decide. And since they were about to close for the Christmas break, we had about two weeks to consider.

What an agonising two weeks! My heart constantly ping-ponged between the two decisions. To pay or not to pay. For two weeks, this was the constant conversation within my head:


“No are you crazy??!! I’m not gonna pay a thousand bucks for just 10 digital photos!”

“But the kids looked super adorable in those pictures… Amy was so pretty and Alistair was so cute!”

“I can buy the kids so much more stuff with a thousand bucks.”

“Just this one time.. just this once $1,000 and then no more! Ever!”

“Nope. I might as well buy a better camera with the money.”


Well, soon the two weeks were up, and finally, we had to make a decision.

We didn’t go for the photos.

So yep, after all that effort of going for our first ever family studio photography session in Melbourne. After going googoo-gaagaa over the gorgeous pictures. After consulting friends’ and families’ opinions. After agonising over the price for two weeks.

We ended up with no pictures. Oh my hearttttt…

So I came home and took the above photos myself. 😛 Just to comfort myself with some lovely photos of the kids.

Of course, these photos are nowhere as gorgeous as the ones taken by the photographer of course (he was ‘award-winning’ apparently). But we really couldn’t afford to pay so much for pictures at this moment. And my kids look cute anyway. So, my heart was comforted.

What really riled me up was, why did the package not include any pictures at all? I couldn’t understand why. Why would anyone purchase a family photography session for $395, and not expect to get any pictures at all with the session? So, what, I am to pay $395 so that I can pose around the camera just for fun??

Back in Malaysia, every photography session includes a certain amount of photos (digital as well as printed products), but you pay more if you want to get more. And I get that. That’s understandable. Why is it different in Australia??

Anyway. It took me a while but my heart recovered. I’m OK.




9 Replies to “Our first Melbourne family photoshoot left me heartbroken”

  1. Yvonne chua says:

    I thought the pictures you took were the ones from the studio!!

  2. Pamsong says:

    Wah. That’s a total ripoff!

  3. James says:

    I actually thought the pictures here are from the studios.. seriously!

  4. Davidw says:

    Scam la. The price included the fees! Lol

  5. Viv says:

    I’ve just seen this and I’m honestly very angry with the photography studio. This is obviously false / misleading advertising.
    Granted the $395 could have been for the photographer’s time, but I feel it wasn’t right for them to hide the truth about no photos from the shoot being included in the package. It was a waste of your time and effort.

    • Natalie Sia says:

      Exactly! Hmmph!! Thankfully, time has healed the wounds so we are no longer feeling as upset about it now lol but we still roll our eyes when we think about it. And this will probably cause us to stay away from professional photography in Melbourne for a lonnnngggggggg time.

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